I'm still trying to catch my breath. My identity was taken, but not in the way one might think.
For four years I was a Junior Kindergarten teacher. That all changed, on a cold and rainy Friday morning. It all seemed, surreal. The phone call. “You are not teaching Junior Kindergarten anymore, you won’t be teaching at all. You will be ‘floating’ between most of the classrooms, covering for teachers who are on break. We made some changes; starting Monday your shift is 9:45-5:45. Be there”. I hung up the phone, in a state of shock. I sat and stared. Quietly I got up, dressed and took a rolling bag with me to pack up all my teaching materials. Within 15 minutes, I was at my centre, and set eyes on the teacher who a short hour ago was my co teacher. Im not sure which of us looked more shell shocked, me or her. “I just found out”. “Me, too,” I reply.
In September we had embarked on our 5th year together, with the same enthusiasm and excitement that we felt with each new group of children. Nothing is ever perfect, there are always challenges and we faced them head on. I loved researching new and different approaches to teaching. Be the best you can be. If the kid is not learning, maybe we need to look at the method we are using and tweak it. This was one of the principles that I upheld.
Reflective analysis. If something was not going the way I wanted it to in class, then my co-teacher and I took time to discuss the issues. How could we make it better? I never attached blame to the child, or to the parent. Rather, I looked inward and analyzed the way in which I taught.
I truly felt that we- that I- was making a difference. The phone call, made me question myself. I had been a mom for 20 years when I went back to school to get my RECE. I not only embraced knowledge, I hungered for it.I did everything I could to be an amazing teacher.
I promised myself I would not cry today. I made good on that for about 5 minutes. I was overcome with emotion, when another colleague came over and said “I am so sorry. This is just wrong on so many levels”.
The weekend gave me time to think, and grieve. I gave into my sadness, the emptiness that I felt within me.
Monday, I went in to comfort my former co teacher as she too was left reeling. No answers. Not even so much as a “thank you, you are a floater”. Through out the day, I drifted in and out of classrooms, talking to parents and teachers. I was pretty certain I had my act together, when the 6th parent came in and said what is going on? I do not know.
What is left resonating in my mind, is what my ex-co-teacher said to me: “They are wasting your talent having you go in and out of classrooms giving break and dropping off snack. It would be like forcing Picasso to only paint fences. What would Picasso do?”
What would Picasso do?